Posts tagged with Dinner

Tip-toe back into the kitchen with slow-cooker curry

Warm, hearty, easy. Perfect for the time post-Thanksgiving.

Warm, hearty, easy. Perfect for the time post-Thanksgiving. by Sarah Henning

My kitchen got some pretty heavy use over the holiday — before, during and after the holiday. Honestly, we needed to take a break from each other. The feeling was mutual (my poor oven).

To ease back into the kitchen, it seems only right to use my slow cooker. Easy for me. Easy for everything that’s still recovering from serving 10 people a week ago.

As you may have gathered by now, I’m a pretty big curry person. I’m also huge on eating seasonally, which is why almost everything you see in this space during the colder months tends to include some sort of gourd or tuber or root. Thus, it seemed completely appropriate (and painless) to feature a butternut squash slow cooker curry this week.

I’ve made a few different butternut squash curries in my slow cooker this season and this one is by far my favorite. I love the depth of flavor from the onion, garlic, chili paste and curry. And I love the simplicity: The hardest thing about it is peeling and chopping up the squash (seriously), but then everything else is as easy as pie. Well, eating pie. Not making it.

We tend to eat this alone with some Wheatfields bread or nothing at all, though feel free to go all traditional and have it over rice.

Savory Butternut Squash Slow Cooker Curry

1 large butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (about 5 to 6 cups)

1 red onion, chopped

2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon minced or pureed fresh ginger

1 tablespoon Thai green curry paste

4 teaspoons Thai red chili paste

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 14-ounce can coconut milk

2 teaspoons coconut sugar or brown sugar

1 cup boiling water

Lime juice (to taste)

In a large skillet, heat coconut oil over medium heat. Add red onion, garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 3 minutes, until onion is soft. Add curry and chili pastes and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Stir in coconut milk.

Transfer everything in the skillet into a slow cooker. Add in butternut squash, sugar, boiling water and a generous squeeze of lime juice. Turn on slow cooker and cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6 hours. Serves 4.


A burrito in a casserole dish

The first casserole I think I've ever liked. In fact, I love it.

The first casserole I think I've ever liked. In fact, I love it. by Sarah Henning

Honestly, I hate casseroles.

I don’t know if it’s the word I don’t like or if I just had a gag reflex to tuna casserole as a child.

No idea.

I just know that most of the time when something is called a “casserole” I immediately get anxious and start trying to figure out which sides I might be able to fill up on instead.

And though even as an adult I still have a weirdness about casserole, I am extremely glad I got over it for a night and tried the following dish: Crowd-Pleasing Tex-Mex Casserole.

The second my hubby took his first bite, he immediately announced it to be possibly his new favorite dinner. And at my first bite, I happily agreed. Even the kiddo tried it and liked it (score).

Crowd pleasing, indeed!

Note: We made ours with leftover basmati rice from India Palace takeout. Starting with pre-cooked rice is definitely a huge time-saver on this one.

Crowd-Pleasing Tex-Mex Casserole

For the Tex-Mex spice blend:

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika or 1/2 teaspoon regular paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more as needed

1 1/4 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander (optional)

For the casserole:

1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 red onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 orange bell pepper, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 jalapeño, seeded, if desired, and diced

Fine-grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn

1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their juices

1 cup tomato sauce or tomato puree

2 to 3 cups chopped kale leaves or baby spinach

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

3 cups cooked wild rice blend or brown rice

1/2 cup vegan shredded cheese such as Daiya (If you aren’t into fake cheese, just use Colby-Jack or omit it all together)

1 to 2 handfuls corn tortilla chips, crushed

Optional toppings:

Sliced green onions



Corn chips

Sour cream (regular or non-dairy)

Make the Tex-Mex spice blend: In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne, salt and coriander (if using). Set aside.

Make the casserole: Preheat the oven to 375 F. Oil a large (4 to 5 quart) casserole dish.

In a large wok, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, bell peppers and jalapeño and saute for 7 to 8 minutes, until softened. Season with salt and black pepper.

Stir in the Tex-Mex spice blend, corn, diced tomatoes and their juices, tomato sauce, kale/spinach, beans, rice and 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese. Saute for a few minutes and season with more salt and black pepper, if desired.

Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish and smooth out the top. Sprinkle the crushed chips over the casserole mixture along with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 15 minutes.

Uncover the casserole dish and cook for 5 to 10 minutes more, until bubbly and lightly golden around the edges.

Scoop the casserole into bowls and add your desired toppings. Serves 6.

— Recipe from “The Oh She Glows Cookbook” by Angela Liddon


Turn a BLT into an addicting AST

The sandwich I've eaten for weeks on end. Don't judge me.

The sandwich I've eaten for weeks on end. Don't judge me. by Sarah Henning

Confession time: If you follow me on Twitter (@shhenning), you might already know that I’m pregnant. And probably going to have another kid just about any second now.

In any case, as most of you know, pregnancy often comes with its fair share of cravings. In fact, if you look back in these posts, you can tell I was having a major love affair with curry during my first trimester.

But in August, a new, forceful craving emerged: the BLT.

Which is funny because I haven’t had bacon in probably 20 years or more.

Though, it wasn’t the bacon I was craving, per se, it was the mixture of crusty bread, juicy tomatoes and mayo that I really, really wanted.

So I came up with my own twist on the BLT: The AST, otherwise known as the avocado, spinach and tomato sandwich.

I’ve had probably three a week since. Don’t judge me. The baby loves it. Apparently, she’s as much of a “rut” eater as I am.

Recipe note: I know that most people probably eat their BLTs on sandwich bread. I prefer a baguette because when combined with mayo, it reminds me of some truly great sandwiches I had while studying abroad in Spain in college. Even if you’re not a crusty bread person, I urge you to give it a go. You might just love the hard/soft combo of ingredients.

The AST (Avocado, Spinach and Tomato) Sandwich

Per sandwich:

1/3 to 1/2 crusty baguette (We used Wheatfields), sliced in half

1/2 large slicing tomato, preferably a Cherokee purple, Brandywine or beefsteak, sliced

Half an avocado, sliced

Handful baby spinach

Mayo, Vegenaise or other condiment of choice

Slather both halves of your baguette with mayo. Top with spinach leaves (stems removed). Place avocado slices on one half and the tomato slices on the other half. Smoosh together. Enjoy.


Fresh, light summer curry

Light but hearty, chickpea curry is dinner in one bowl.

Light but hearty, chickpea curry is dinner in one bowl. by Sarah Henning

All winter long, it seems, I made curry. Thai curry, to be exact. I wrote about a few of them in this space. They were hearty and often served over sweet potatoes for extra nutrition, because I’m a little weird like that.

And I may be one of the luckiest foodies on the planet, because I was just gifted a perfect Indian curry recipe for summer.

One of my friends, Paffi, and I met for lunch the other day, and she brought with her a shopping bag. I was kind of oblivious, and just figured she’d gone on a grocery trip before lunch and didn’t want to leave whatever she’d bought in a hot car while we ate.

Turns out, the bag was for me.

Inside was a recipe for chickpea curry we’d talked about quite awhile ago, and ALL the ingredients I needed to make it.

Have I mentioned I have awesome friends?

Well, I do. And I had to make Paffi’s chickpea curry ASAP. We made it Sunday night, and not only was it super fast (the rice took longer to cook than the curry itself), it was also light and fresh and perfect for summer.

The curry features fresh Roma tomatoes and onion — two things we’ll have in season at the same time shortly — plus curry powder, and that was pretty much it. A little oil, a little cumin, and a whole lot of fresh, light flavor. This is not your winter curry. And the chickpeas make it super hearty.

Honestly, I can’t wait until the tomatoes and onions both are either from my garden, my CSA share, or the Lawrence Farmers’ Market.

Chickpea Curry

1 medium onion, diced

5 Roma tomatoes, diced

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 cup water (as needed)

Vegetable oil to saute (we used coconut oil)

1 teaspoon Deep curry powder (can be found at Indian food stores)


Cayenne powder to taste (optional)

¼ teaspoon cumin powder (optional)

2 cups cooked basmati rice


Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Add onions. Sprinkle salt to sweat the onions. Saute until translucent.

Add chickpeas and stir to incorporate into onions. Add curry powder and, if using, add cayenne and cumin. Cook for a minute, stirring constantly.

Stir in tomatoes and then add enough water to wet the bottom of the pan and scrape any caramelization.

Continue to cook and stir until the curry comes to a boil. Cover the pan. Lower heat and simmer for 7 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add salt to taste and serve over rice or eat with naan. Serves 4.


The case of the unloved asparagus

Asparagus: Oh, so delicious, unless you're five.

Asparagus: Oh, so delicious, unless you're five. by Sarah Henning

Sometime between last spring and this spring, my kiddo totally forgot that he loves asparagus. Last year, he’d eat the green or purple stalks, no questions asked. But this year?

No, no, no, no, get that away from me, no.

That’s a direct quote.

I’m sure anyone with kids/grandkids/imagines their life with kids reading this understands the fickle nature of a child’s taste buds — and the amnesia that goes along with it.

Once upon a time, my son ate all sorts of things that are utterly “Gross, mom, jeez!” He’d eat vegetable korma. Pad Thai. Even something as difficult to love as soup.


Nope. Nope. Nope.

Today, he’ll try new things, but only within reason. Example: He’ll try papaya because it looks like cantaloupe or mango. Or those chia seed doughnuts I made, specifically because they look like doughnuts.

But foods he’s tried before that we swear up and down that he likes? Not unless it looks promising.

And, asparagus, my friends, doesn’t look promising. Too green, too plant-like (despite the fact that this kid will eat baby spinach leaves plain), too unfamiliar.

So, how do we get him to eat it?

Bribed the heck out of him.

Basically, though he’s 5, our kid doesn’t necessarily always have the same dinner we have. We’re still transitioning him into eating what we eat, no ifs, ands or buts. But I’m still too concerned about him not eating enough, that I’m not strict about this (maybe we’re training me and not him, then?).

Thus, sometimes he has exactly what we have but most of the time, he has our sides plus something else. Case in point: tonight we’re having fajitas with salad on the side. He’ll have salad, avocado, raw red peppers saved from the fajita pan and a quesadilla.

But we want to eventually get him to eat exactly what we eat for dinner. I’m not making him his very own specialized dinner until he’s 18. Plus, I want him to eat and enjoy foods that aren’t your everyday picks, like seasonal, delicious asparagus.

So we’ll do what I’m sure many parents will do. We say something along the lines of, “If you eat two pieces of asparagus, you can watch a cartoon after dinner. No asparagus, no cartoon.”

Usually, that does the trick. Sometimes, as is the case with soup for some reason (even potato chowder, aka “french fry soup”), he’ll just say, “I didn’t want to watch a cartoon.” Yeah, right, kid.

When I was his age, I distinctly remember having to eat the dinner my parents were eating, no substitutions. Therefore, I wonder if I’m being soft. Should I stop tailoring his meals? Should I wait until he starts kindergarten in the fall? Or should I just roll with it, and be happy that he eats really healthy even if he’s not eating exactly what we’re eating?

I don’t have the answer. I don’t know if I’ll ever know exactly what’s right. But I do know that trying to persuade him to eat food that's good for him can never be bad. Even if it comes with a side of bribery.

Now, for the real reason you’re here. An asparagus recipe we’re loving at the moment (even if the kiddo is still suspicious):

Asparagus with Lemon and Olives

1 pound asparagus

1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil, melted

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Sea salt and black pepper

1 lemon

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Chop the ends off the asparagus and rinse under water. Place the asparagus on a baking sheet and toss with the melted butter or coconut oil. Sprinkle with garlic powder, sea salt and black pepper to taste. Roast for approximately 10-15 minutes, less time for thin asparagus, more time for thick asparagus.

While the asparagus is roasting, use a microplane grater to remove the zest from the lemon, and set the zest aside.

When the asparagus is bright green and fork tender, remove it from the oven, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and top with the lemon zest and halved olives.

— Recipe from Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo


That’s a wrap, winter

A wrap (unwrapped) to straddle that weird period at the beginning of spring.

A wrap (unwrapped) to straddle that weird period at the beginning of spring. by Sarah Henning

Sometimes, especially times like these when we are just starting a new season (hello, spring!), I end up taking an old favorite and changing it up a bit. You know, so it looks all fresh and shiny but pretty much tastes the same (because, as you know, I’m a rut girl).

Because the thing about entering a new season is that it doesn’t automatically come with new seasonal produce. Well, not initially. It’ll be at least another month before the early spring produce is available from local farmers. And I like to adjust what I’m eating based on what’s in season.

That said, I decided to turn a staple salad of mine into a wrap for dinner one evening. It just seemed like the type of night to avoid a fork. Plus, I’d already made sweet potatoes and had a perfectly ripe avocado. The husband approved and the kiddo threatened to eat all of our ingredients (without actually saying yes to a wrap). Go figure.

Yep, that's one giant wrap.

Yep, that's one giant wrap. by Sarah Henning

Start of Spring Wrap

1 large sweet potato

1 avocado

Baby spinach

Peppadew peppers, sliced in half


Coconut oil



2 wraps of your choice (I used gluten-free spinach)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and slice sweet potato into 1/4-inch rounds, and place them on a rimmed cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Rub coconut oil on each slice and season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven for 15 minutes. Flip the sweet potatoes and place them in the oven for 10 more minutes.

When the sweet potatoes have 5 minutes left, place each of your wraps flat on their own plates. Spread hummus on each wrap, top with spinach and peppadew peppers. Next, slice up the avocado and place half on each wrap.

Top off your wraps with fresh-from-the-oven sweet potatoes. Eat while warm. Serves 2.


Lazy and healthy: Slow cooker curry over sweet potatoes

Curry over sweet potatoes? Sounds weird, tastes amazing.

Curry over sweet potatoes? Sounds weird, tastes amazing. by Sarah Henning

I don’t know about you guys, but after the decadence that was the past Thanksgiving week, simple and healthy were on the top of my wish list for this week’s eats.

Not that I gorged on food day and night from Thursday through the weekend or anything. Though, it was tempting. That said, I did have quite a few of those pumpkin bars I wrote about last week, and my mom and I shared a good amount of dark chocolate between us.

But: It was a holiday. Time with family. Regret nothing.

So, Sunday night, we wanted to do a bit of damage control. A healthy meal that was easy, too. So we pulled out the crock pot and made a slow cooker curry, and rather than go for rice, we roasted some sweet potatoes and served the curry over the sweet potatoes. Unusual? Yes. Healthy? Yes. Delicious? You bet.

Slow Cooker Curry over Sweet Potatoes

1 pound cooked shrimp, defrosted if frozen (optional)

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves minced garlic

1 teaspoon roasted red chili paste

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 tablespoon mild curry powder

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 cup canned diced tomatoes, with juice

1 can coconut milk

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

6 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced

Salt and black pepper to taste

2 sweet potatoes

More coconut oil

In a skillet or wok, heat coconut oil over medium heat. Add onion and stir-fry until softened. Add garlic, chile paste, curry powder and thyme and stir-fry 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, with juice, bring to a boil, stirring and scraping the pan.

Transfer everything in the pan into your slow cooker. Add coconut milk and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours. Thirty minutes before it’s done cooking, add the shrimp, if using.

Prepare your sweet potatoes: Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Peel your potatoes and slice them into quarter-inch rounds. Lay rounds on a parchment-covered cookie sheet and rub coconut oil onto the exposed side of each round. Roast for 25 minutes, flipping over your rounds halfway.

At the 2-hour mark for the curry, add bell pepper and green onions, and cook another 15 minutes. Serve over warm, roasted sweet potatoes. Serves: 4.


A great salad to start the new year

Portobello Salad with Spicy Mustard Dressing.

Portobello Salad with Spicy Mustard Dressing. by Sarah Henning

It's Jan. 1, peeps! (Or Jan. 2 for many of you who might not be eyeballing our site on a holiday.) If you're visiting this blog in the new year because you've decided you'd eat more whole, fresh foods, you've come to the right place. Well, at least I think so.

I really do try to keep this blog as healthy as possible. To me "healthy" means a few things:

  1. Whole ingredients — I like to use foods in their natural state, as unprocessed as possible. This isn't always the case, or sometimes I use something out of convenience (case in point: the can of beans below, rather than beans from scratch). But, most of the time, my meals feature whole fruits and vegetables supported by a few condiments.

  2. Good fats — I prefer to focus on fats that are good for the body: seeds and nuts with essential fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids (like the kind in avocados) and medium chain fatty acids (like the kind in virgin coconut oil). Extra virgin olive and grapeseed oils are great too, but don't provide as many anti-inflammatory benefits as the other fats I've mentioned.

  3. No refined sugar — I like to use alternatives to white or brown sugar when possible. Most of the time, I'll tend to use dates, maple syrup and honey.

The salad I'm featuring today is a great example of a healthy dinner that meets all of my guidelines. It contains good fats, plenty of whole foods, unrefined sugar and isn't difficult to prepare.

Note: The picture above also contains mashed sweet potatoes. I'm not including a potato recipe because we were too heavy-handed on the spices and they ended up tasting like a high-end pumpkin pie candle. Not our best experiment.

Portobello Salad with Spicy Mustard Dressing


1/4 cup prepared spicy, smooth mustard

3 tablespoons grapeseed oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup


8 cups mixed greens

1 avocado, peeled, halved, pitted and sliced thin

1 small red onion, sliced into very thin half-moons

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 recipe roasted portobellos (below)

Dressing: Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Done.

Salad: Throw together all the ingredients except the portobellos in a large mixing bowl. Pour on the dressing and use tongs to toss. When ready to serve, place the dressed greens on plate and add the sliced, warm portobellos. Serves 4.

Roasted Portobellos

1/2 cup cooking wine

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 large portobello caps

Combine all ingredients for the marinade in a glass pie plate or small casserole. Place the mushrooms upside down in the marinade into each cap to form a small pool. Preheat the oven to 400 F and marinate for about 20 minutes.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, use tongs to flip the caps over, and cook, uncovered, for another 10 minutes. Let it cool a bit and then slice the mushrooms very thinly on the diagonal and make nice meaty slices.

(Recipe from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero)


Reaping the benefits of Monday night “planning”

There. See? I had my leftovers. The kale salad for lunch, the squash for dinner, along with some homemade pizza.

And it was tasty ... almost like I planned it.

P.S. On that pizza, in case you're wondering, is pizza sauce, roasted garlic, marinated mushrooms, avocado and some cashew cheese. Put the cheese on the squash too — yum!